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Thread: initialize USB disk

  1. #1
    The Clarks Guest

    initialize USB disk

    Hi, I have Vista and I have a hard drive that I had for my personal stuff
    from XP, my son installed it into my new PC then I got the drive
    disconnected so as not to void the warranty when the technician from Acer
    came to fix a problem I was having. I decided to get a casing for the drive
    and use it as a USB device but can't initialise the disk.
    I go to control panel/admin. tools/computer management/disk management. My
    disk shows but I don't know how to initalize from there. When I right click
    I get a help message only and not the options I get when I right click my
    other drives.
    The guy who sold me the casing installed the drive for me and I'm sure it is
    OK as it shows that the disk is there.
    It doesn't show when I look in the computer.
    Thanks, I hope I have explained my problem properly

  2. #2
    Patrick Keenan Guest
    You were using this drive, and you have data on it? In that case you do
    not have to initialise it. That's really only necessary before it's been

    Try assigning it a drive letter, and at worst you can try the command line
    version of the disk management utility. Open a command prompt and type
    "diskpart", and then work through the commands. Basically the process is
    to list the disks, select the disk you want, list the partitions, select the
    partition you want, assign it a drive letter. In diskpart, the ? key will
    get you the help text. You don't have to list the items if you know
    exactly what they are, but it helps to be sure.

    The syntax is like this:

    List disk
    Select disk 2
    List partition
    Select partition 1

    and at this point, you should be able to see the drive with a letter in My
    Computer and Explorer.

    Boy that sure jogged memories. It's like working through an old "Adventure"

  3. #3
    oldun Guest

    Re: initialize USB disk

    When I bought a brand new drive I could not format it as it was not
    initialized. Nowhere in Vista could I find out how this is done.

    On another forum I found the answer.

    Under Control Panel/Disk Management I found the new hard drive to
    appear but in black, not like the other drives.

    Next to the name was a small red cross. Right clicking the red cross
    allowed me to initialize it?

    Why is it so hard to do this in Vista and why is there no help for this

  4. #4
    Erichall Guest

    Re: initialize USB disk

    Hello everyone from a newbie.

    I've been following this thread as I'm trying to do exactly the same thing. Run the hard drive from my previous lappy (with XP) in a caddy connected to my new lappy (with Vista) in order to copy all of the data.

    So I've done the above steps, but I get the "device is not ready" when I try to initialise it.

    In the "properties" I get a "device is working properly" message, so I'm completely bewildered.

    Anyone any ideas what I do to get my device ready so I can initialise it?

    And if ir doesn't need initialising - all it needs is to be assigned a drive letter even though Disk Management seems to think that it ought to be initialised - how do I go about assigning it a drive letter?

    Sorry if much of the above seems unnecessary but I really don't have a clue about this (just in case you hadn't guessed ;-0 )

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    I have a somewhat slightly differnt question regarding disk Initialization...
    I installed a usb drive (brand new) and when I went to the Disk Manager it asked me to initalize the disk so I Clicked yes, and then poof it was doen..however it initalized the 250 g as a 130 g and I can't get windows xp to change it . I read the help files and then say to rgiht click the drive and select initalize but that option never appears...any suggestions?

    It is an older machine (2006) but its running windows XP. The question is how can I re-initialize the drive with the propwer 250 GB as opposed to 130 GB.
    Thanks in advance..

    Unfortunately I've tried that...several times to no avail. Even on a newer machine. Seems Once Windows has decided tio initialize the disc as 130GB, that's it. Do you know how Icould perfrom a low level format and erase the boot sector?

    Again thanks in advance

  6. #6
    Gene E. Bloch Guest

    Re: initialize USB disk

    In Windows the word is Format.

    Your BIOS might not allow larger file systems - the number 130 "g" (you
    meant GB, right?) rings a bell in my brain.

    If your computer is a 5 or 6 years old and running Windows Me, the BIOS
    might be the reason.

  7. #7
    Roy Smith Guest

    Re: initialize USB disk

    Right click on My Computer, either on your desktop (if present) or in
    the Start menu. In the pop-up menu click on Manage. On the left side
    of the Computer Management window click on Disk Management. Now
    right-click on the entry for your USB drive and select delete partition.
    Finally try to create the partition again.

  8. #8
    Gene E. Bloch Guest

    Re: initialize USB disk

    The question should've been "how can I reformat the drive...", and if your
    BIOS doesn't support large partitions, the answer is "You can't". Unless
    you upgrade your BIOS...

    If your BIOS supports large drives, then I agree with Roy Smith.

    I think 2006 is recent enough that your hardware (BIOS) should be OK.

    OTOH, maybe there's something wrong with either the hard drive or the USB
    enclosure or adapter that you are using. It happens :-(

    You are formatting the drive as FAT32 or NTFS, correct?

  9. #9
    Zaphod Beeblebrox Guest

    Re: initialize USB disk

    The 130GB sounds like the 24bit addressing limit that used to be a
    problem back around 2001 when the first WD 160GB drives arrived. XP
    SP1 should have taken care of that limit, as should a BIOS from 2006.
    However, as suggested the drive enclosure may be the problem. See for an
    example much like this one, where the solution was to connect the
    drive directly and partition / format it, then put it back in the
    enclosure. I'm not sure how comfortable I would be that it wouldn't
    have problems when filled to over 130GB, however...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: initialize USB disk

    Considering all the bad luck I've had with hard drives these days ... it may be that....
    I have iniatilized other hard drives using the same enclosure (it's a 5.25 enclosure with removalble drive bays) without any problems.

    Are you suggesting I take the drive out and install it in another computer as a slave drive and then see if windows will re-initialize it (i.e. re-write the boot sector) once I remove the partition?
    Am I to take it, that since win xp has written the boot sectoer to 130GB... I'm struck with a 130GB hard drive.

    thanks again for all your help guys ...too bad computers are as user friendly

  11. #11
    Gene E. Bloch Guest

    Re: initialize USB disk

    Thanks for the corroboration - I wasn't all that sure about the 130 GB

    And yes, as your link seems to imply, the enclosure itself might have a
    controller that won't work over 137 GB (OK, I was off by 7 GB!).

    I have no idea why the OP thinks that the boot sector prevents Windows from
    formatting the drive to a new capacity. Perhaps he doesn't think that
    rewriting the boot sector is part of formatting...

    If Roy Smith's idea doesn't work for the OP, that does tend to implicate
    the BIOS in the computer or the controller in the enclosure (or even the
    drive itself).

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